University of Waikato alumna Emma Sherman has won a Fulbright Science and Innovation Graduate Award to research mouth feel properties of red wine using sensory and metabolomic techniques.
She will travel to the US in August to study at the University of California Davis over the next 12 months.
Studying wine body
At UC Davis, Emma will focus her research on the mouth feel of pinot noir, in particular the body, or viscosity, of the wine. She will use sensory and metabolite profiling methods to look for compounds that may contribute to the viscous mouth feel of red wines.
The metabolite composition of wine is generated by multiple organisms, firstly by the grapevines used to make the wine, along with yeast and bacteria that may occur naturally on the grapes or be inoculated to manipulate the ferment.
“Wine is a complex biological product and attempts to determine the origins of flavours, aromas and mouth feel properties using traditional targeted analyses are often difficult,” says Emma. “Pinot noir in particular is a low phenolic and low tannin wine variety, so the mouth feel can be quite different from other red wines.”
She hopes her research will identify metabolites that are important contributors to pinot noir sensory attributes. “I’d like to see the information used to develop viticultural and winemaking methods that can modify concentrations of those metabolites to allow targeted manipulation of wine flavour, aroma and mouth feel.”
Biological Science focus
Emma graduated from the University of Waikato in 2007 with a BSc(Tech). “I particularly liked the work placement aspect of the BSc(Tech). I learned a lot from my placements, particularly at Tetley in London where I was placed for a year analysing tea and tea products.”
In 2013 Emma finished her Masters at the University of Auckland, and will complete her PhD in Biological Sciences there, following her stint at UC Davis.
“I’m excited to experience American campus life. UC Davis is apparently the biggest campus in the University of California system, so that will be a big eye-opener.”
Fulbright New Zealand Graduate Awards
Fulbright New Zealand Graduate Awards consist of a cash payment towards the costs of studying in the US. Fulbright New Zealand is jointly funded by the US and New Zealand governments with additional funding from award sponsors, private philanthropists and alumni donors.